Hadaka matsuri have existed for several centuries and are held in many places in Japan, sometimes in summer but mainly in winter. This is perhaps the most paradoxical side of Japan: known for their reserve, shyness, and their lack if not dislike of physical contact, the Japanese appear quite different when they participate in a matsuri festival. These holidays differ slightly from one region to another, but all are led by men no women in these celebrations of virility! Wearing a short loincloth called fundoshi that serves as a thong.
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When I returned to Japan after Christmas break, I found it only a couple of degrees warmer than I left it. Scraping ice off my car windows before work in the mornings has certainly been a new experience. In January, however, over 9 people in Japan do precisely that. Since it was a public holiday, Mark and I decided to go check it out. We watched from the sidelines with the other spectators, bundled up in scarves and hoodies.
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But only men can see these artefacts, as women are banned from visiting. The decision will be announced in July in Krakow, Poland. Its male visitors must follow strict rules to strip naked and perform a cleansing ritual before they set foot on the land. The waters surrounding the island were an important trade route for Japan to China and the Korean Peninsula between the fourth and ninth centuries.
Hadaka Matsuri participants are strictly men. In Saidai-ji, the elementary school boys have a separate competition during the day, while the men compete at the stroke of midnight. Throughout the afternoon, groups of brave, loincloth-clad men race through the icy cold pool.